Blighted Buildings Getting the Buff in Detroit
Many know that Detroit in the past three years has been a graffiti playground due to the city filing for bankruptcy, understaffing of public safety and citizens moving out of the city at a rapid pace. With the decline of population one notable building was left abandoned, the United Community Hospital in Southwest Detroit.
The hospital was shut down in 2007, and has had multiple owners since then, none of which followed through with their intentions to revitalize the building. As it sat vacant the building became an easy target for writers to use as a blank canvas. First the rooftop was painted. Next came rollers by Purge, Suey and Hoots. Then, as time went on, the base of the hospital got painted. Last fall, crews went above and beyond taking the striped architecture into play by using that for huge, freeway side rollers. There is now one on every floor.
Because this building is so noticeable from the freeway, it has been a target for the blight busters to get after the property owner. This is something happening all over the city, if graff was painted without permission officials are issuing tickets to the building owners, and it has to be removed at the owner’s expense. We have seen a lot of the main streets buffed since the warm weather hit. The city claims that the removal of graff is a quality of life issue, and that it will make people feel safer once it’s gone. Apparently the house getting raided up the street, or the scrapper with his truck filled with metal from the abandoned school around the corner, has nothing to do with the quality of life.
In a recent article in the Detroit News about street art, we found it interesting that when Alexis Wiley, the mayors’ chief of staff, was asked why there isn’t a Cultural Affairs Director for the city she couldn’t comment. The city needs to embrace the talent that is here or that comes here. There is no better time than now.
text and photos by attng3tr